Making the most of video tutorials

This post is for all your fellow learners that love using video tutorials and are just starting out. I think this is a great topic to discuss on a meta level so feel free to add your thoughts in the thread.

Video tutorials are great! They are personable, easy to understand, and easy to follow along with. –However, there may come a moment where we tackle a long video (1 hour) and at the end our code falls completely apart… We have no idea what’s wrong, and worse, if we scour through the entire video, sometimes it’s something as small as a similar letter being mistyped (1 vs l, ’ vs `, etc).

This is frustrating. Not only is it frustrating, if it happens again it is even more frustrating. And as we go along the videos only seem harder and harder, and these moments can emerge more and more.

Here is a by-no-means-comprehensive list of some strategies to consider:

Proactive vs. passive

Engaged learning generally tends to stick more. Find ways to “think ahead” of the video.

  • Can you make an outline of what the video is trying to aim for (and techniques that might be used)?
  • Can you find documentation references for the tools that are used (as you would want to have at your disposal if you were doing it solo)?
  • Is it possible to interact with the code written already? (print messages, console.logs etc)? If not, what are the missing pieces?

Adaptability

Ok, I just went through an hour of video and the code works. What now :thinking:?

  • Can I come up with a blueprint of slightly different goals and make it work with the same techniques I just learned? If not, what is missing and how would I get it?
  • Can I use techniques I already know to achieve similar results?
  • Can I summarize it in easy to understand non-technical terms? (maybe through analogy)

Note taking

  • What are the concepts that were obscure? Is it something I want to invest time in the future learning? (find and bookmark examples)
  • What are the concepts that I immediately clicked with? How can I implement it into my routine so I don’t lose track of these?
  • (meta) I understood the concepts, but were there any strategic approaches that the video creator used that I can make note of (this can even be something like: they conveyed the material in a very smooth and easy-going way, which can be very useful when communicating ideas to a team or client…)

These are some of the ones that come off the top of my head… Feel free to add more techniques that you find useful to make the video tutorial experience productive!

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The most prominent thing I use the video walkthroughs for is to fill gaps, where I feel like either the instructions weren’t written clearly enough, or there is an assumption of knowledge that shouldn’t be.

The other thing I use them for is to check my work. If, for example, I’m working through a project and I’m not 100% sure how to approach something, I will figure out my own solution, then check it against the video to see if my solution is the same (or different but still works).

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I have heard a good way to use video tutorials is to watch the entire video, and then build the project on your own without it.

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